November 28, 2017
The latest Ericsson Mobility Report has run the numbers and come to the conclusion that a fifth of the world will be on 5G within six years.
Anyone can extrapolate a graph, of course, but since Ericsson has special insight into the nature of the network itself, thanks to being one of the biggest mobile networking kit vendors, there’s a chance it’s number crunching may be relatively accurate. On the flip side there are zero 5G subscriptions today, so Ericsson isn’t so much extrapolating as having a really good guess.
But it does have precedent to draw upon. If you take a look at the chart below you can see that 4G took a few years to start ramping, but once it did it exploded. You can also see that total global mobile subscriptions have increased in a very predictable straight line. Therefore the main piece of judgment Ericsson had to make is picking the time 5G will hit that growth inflection point, which it seems to think will be in 2022.
That is a bit contentious. The assumption seems to be that 5G uptake will be much more rapid for 5G than for previous generations. While the past trend may well have been for new generations to be adopted more quickly than previous ones, that doesn’t mean it will repeat itself. The case for consumers is likely to be especially weak for 5G, with most of the applications it enables, at least initially, being industrial ones.
The anticipated regional split has North East Asia (Korea, Japan, China) and North America leading the way, with Western Europe a distant third. There is a fair bit of hand-wringing about Europe being left behind on 5G but, given that the immediate benefits of it are still being debated, it remains to be seen if that’s such a bad thing. Ericsson, presumably, would like Europe to accelerate its 5G investments.
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